Geek Trivia

What Inspired Frank Herbert To Write His Iconic Sci-Fi Novel Dune?

The Great Dune of Pyla
The Sahara Dessert
The Oregon Dunes
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Answer: The Oregon Dunes

Frank Herbert’s iconic novel Dune takes place on the incredibly arid world of Arrakis. It would be easy to assume that Arrakis and the hardy and highly adapted people, the Fremen, that live alongside the world’s sparse human population were inspired by some of the largest deserts on Earth and the tribes that populate them.

Herbert’s primary and initial inspiration, however, is a touch less otherworldly and exotic than that. In the late 1950s, Herbert visited the Oregon Dunes, located on the central coast of Oregon. The dunes are the largest area of coastal sand dunes in North America and strong winds coming off the Pacific Ocean make them particularly volatile and problematic. At the time Herbert visited the dunes, the United States Department of Agriculture was embarking on a major project to stabilize the dunes with poverty grasses in order to protect nearby communities from essentially being swallowed up by the slowly moving and massive dune structures.

He was fascinated by the idea of sand dunes swallowing up a community and the very idea of the dunes and the desert-like environment serving as an antagonist. Herbert’s research into the Oregon dunes and other dunes around the world became the kernel for what would later become his most iconic work, the appropriately named, Dune.

Image courtesy of Rebecca Kennison.